He figured he could help the team in a pinch so he opted to insert himself into the lineup. Assistant coach Kristian Kavli also appeared in a handful of games when the team was short. Their appearances in the regular season would make them eligible for playoff action if there was a need.
Since losing several players to work, school and injury, Colbourne has been a regular in the lineup for the regular season and into the playoffs for the Royals.
Initially, the decision was met with skepticism. The 50-year-old Hockey Hall of Famer hasn’t played senior hockey since playing 13 games with the Corner Brook Royals during the 2011-2012 season.
However, he’s produced when on the ice. Colbourne had three goals and an assist in the first two playoff wins. In five regular season games, he had one goal and five assists.
As the playoff run goes deeper, those same detractors still question why one of the league’s oldest players is still suiting up for Corner Brook. There is a question of whether or not Colbourne’s decision to play is a detriment to the team because his presence is taking ice time away from younger players.
Case in point is Matt Lundrigan, a big defenceman who played a number of games up front this season. He was a healthy scratch for the Royals last weekend. Many believed it was because Colbourne took a game away from Lundrigan in favour of putting himself on the ice.
However, Colbourne said Lundrigan wasn’t going to be on time for the opening game of the series last Friday night due to work. As a result, he wasn’t put in the lineup.
Colbourne will be suiting up for the Royals in Game 3 of a best-of-five West Coast Senior Hockey League with a chance to sweep the series against the Stephenville Jets.
The coach isn’t sure if there will be any other changes because things pop up every week that make him take a look at what his roster is going to look like.
Royals defenceman Lucas Wiseman is expected to miss Friday’s game with an undisclosed injury and there are plans to put Lundrigan into the lineup if he’s available.
Colbourne said winning hockey games is his focus so he’s trying to do what’s best for the team. He said he talked to the players about his presence and they encouraged him to continue playing so he’s going to do so as long as it is in the best interest of the Royals.
“I got three goals and an assist in playoffs so I’m helping somewhat,” he said. “I’m not trying to avoid anything. These are decisions you make as a coach and a playing coach, I guess, now.”
Game 3 between the Royals and the Jets is scheduled for a 8 p.m. start Friday night at the Corner Brook Civic Centre.